So 3 months or so ago I finally decided to allow myself what I've always wanted since being a teenager browsing Stereophile magazine at the library, a true pro setup. Here's the thing, I primarily listen to heavy metal. All over the place from the typical Disturbed, Pantera, Metallica, to black metal such as Dimmu Borgir, death metal such as Nile, power metal like Rhapsody, Stratovarious, techno metal with bass, etc. I've got about 10 cd's I've been listening to on the systems I've been demoing, over and over. One of them is the new Lady Gaga, and man that sounds great on anything. But the other CD's are hit or miss. The main thing I hear is a REVERB to TINNY type sound, like the band is playing off in the corner, or there is a medium echo in the music. This can be heard on all systems to a high (very annoying) degree, or a low degree. The more I turned up subs the more this went away. This also can be heard on cheap systems, but somewhat easily EQ'd away. None of the dealers have any EQ setup so I haven't been able to flirt with that except for the occasional treble knob, which doesn't help much. Does anyone have any idea what I'm talking about or how to find the system that would best eliminate this? The dealers have had several hypotheses from the all too simple "crappy recording being revealed" (which I don't really believe is the case with a number of these such as new Stratovarius and Disturbed's Believe), too "high fi systems shoot for a wide sound stage" to "these are made more for classical, etc." To help explain further I've listed a number of the systems that I've demoed below along with my notes. My apologies on not knowing the exact details of everything. The dealers up here are all VERY friendly, but also don't all exactly have great ability to switch equipment or actually even play the items that they would recommend to me.
**Second part of my question is also advice on the equipment below and any thoughts here or otherwise. My budget for the system (including surround sound, projector etc) is around 80-100k IF I'm totally blown away. Yes I know that is a lot of money. That budget is for a full audio/video system, however, what I'm really concerned about is 2 channel audio. I'm not nearly as picky about movies as I don't even know what to listen for and figure I'll be happy with anything I come up with in that regard (correct me if I'm wrong). My room is fairly large, about 25x45x9 and naturally I haven't heard anything down there yet.
Here's what I've demoed in the shops:
Monitor Audio - Platinums, powered by a Sunfire amp (model unknown), Marantz CD player and preamp, as well as 2 JL Audio F212's, in a large room (20x35). Sounded VERY tinny. Wasn't impressed at all with the Monitors. The JL Audio subs sounded great though and put out a ton of bass.
Revel Salon 2 - powered by an older powerful Crown amp (model unknown), Marantz CD Player and preamp, as well as 2 JL Audio F212's in a large room (20x35x10). Similar setup to the above. One of the best sounding setups yet. There was only a bit of the tininess/reverb sound on this system, but enough for me to question what is going on. Plus the Revels are very pricey (18k) so I want to make sure I get it right. The bass oddly wasn't nearly as impactful with the Salon2's, no idea why, I just didn't seem blown away by it at all, and I had the subs turned up near 3/4 volume.
Paradigm - Signature S8 powered by a McIntosh two channel amp and Mc preamp (CD Player unknown) along with 1 JL Audio F212, in a smallish room (12x15x10). Now, this was probably the best sounding setup of them all. At one point listening to these I had a moment where I was moved, all of a sudden everything came together. I keep thinking this is the system, but I read bad things about the Mc and the Paradigm or not nearly in the same class as some of the speakers so I'm wondering if it was the ROOM. Only one sub and it seemed to just kick hard and the tininess/reverb was to a minimum, especially after the owner made a cable swap (seemed to actually make a difference) based on my complaints. Was it the Mcintosh amps??
I've also listened to Bryston Model 2's, Wilsons (some set around 50k), and B&W (something around 12k), with decent amps but only average subs. Was underwhelmed with all of those, the Model T's sounded the best. The one thing I'm pretty for sure on is that the JL subs easily carried the day in most situations, so I think I'm going to spring for 2 Gotham G213 and assume that will at least totally take care of the bass part of things. I'm hoping to demo the Paradigms again and see if I get the same feeling, and also the Revels again as well as perhaps try the Legacy higher end stuff. Any other recommendations and general advice would be greatly appreciated.